Common Core ‘Freeze’ Begins in Michigan; Stalemate in Indiana?

By Andrew Ujifusa — October 02, 2013 3 min read
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The Michigan Department of Education nearly had to shutter its website on Oct. 1, but it wasn’t because of the federal government shutdown. With the state’s spending freeze on the Common Core State Standards beginning at the start of Oct. 1, the state department was preparing to close down its Internet presence because of common core’s footprint throughout the website, the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday. But after some interagency discussions, apparently, the decision was made that the website, including any pages dealing with the standards, could remain up and running. The department is barred from posting anything new about the standards, however, which might irk any districts seeking guidance as they implement the common core.

The most recent development for the state’s common core supporters was a positive one: The Michigan House approved a resolution that would fund the standards and the associated Smarter Balanced tests, although it does require a review of the assessments. But the state Senate obviously was in no rush to consider the resolution before the Oct. 1 “freeze” kicked in, and without the support of the upper chamber, the resolution will fail. Officials have said the freeze mostly affects the state’s work on assessments, since it’s ultimately up to districts and schools to implement the standards in classrooms at this juncture. A joint hearing on the common core in the senate is slated for the afternoon of Oct. 2.

Travel south on Interstate 69 to Indiana, and instead of a formal freeze, there’s more of a stalemate with respect to common core’s fate. A common core study committee there has been trying to vote out a proposal that either affirms common core’s place in the state or deep-sixes it. As the Northwest Indiana Times tells it, the committee’s co-chairman, GOP Rep. Robert Behning, said that a proposal to give common core the boot and instead implement standards designed solely by Indiana didn’t have the votes to get out of the committee. The result? The final report from the committee has no “findings” and, perhaps more importantly, no official recommendations on how to proceed with respect to the standards.

That clearly won’t quell the debate about the common core in Indiana, as a subsequent Oct. 2 meeting of the Indiana state school board shows (courtesy of StateImpact reporter Elle Moxley):

The state board, as the adopter of content standards, remains key to the situation, unless there’s a firmer push against the standards in the legislature. At some point, either the standards will simply remain in place in Indiana without further official action, or else the board will have to take another vote on the standards.

UPDATE: Adam VanOsdol at Indiana Education Insight points out that according to the legal language that set the state’s common-core review in motion, by July 1, 2014, the state board “shall adopt” college- and career-readiness standards, and that therefore the state board has to take some kind of official action regarding common core or another set of standards. This seems like a valid point. Even if you think the common core hasn’t really been frozen in Indiana (part of a debate we’ve covered before), the intent of the language at least seems to be to require another state board vote. The board might, of course, might simply vote to re-adopt the common core.

As of last summer, when we looked at Gov. Mike Pence’s new appointments to the board, it appeared as though the board’s makeup was a good sign for the standards. Pence, a Republican did make a new appointment to the board last month, Gordon Hendry, who has ties to the state’s business community and former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson. If Hendry’s party affiliation (Democratic) is anything to go by, there’s a good shot he’ll end up on the record as a common-core supporter.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.